Safeguarding adults: Mediation and family group conferences

Family group conferences - The process

Referral and contact

If a social care service considers that an FGC may be appropriate, the referrer should talk to the person (and other interested parties) to make sure that they agree to being referred. The referrer should provide literature to the person to explain what an FGC is and what it involves. SCIE’s At a Glance summary on mediation and family group conferences may be useful. It is important that the person agrees to participate in an FGC voluntarily.

The referrer would then usually approach the FGC service on the person’s behalf, although in some cases, a person can self-refer. The FGC service will arrange to screen the case for suitability and should inform the referrer as soon as possible. If the FGC service considers the case to be unsuitable for an FGC, it should inform the referrer and give reasons why (Mutter et al 2002). Local policies should detail the criteria for referral.

An independent FGC coordinator is appointed who will contact and arrange to visit all significant people identified by the vulnerable person or the referrer. The purpose of this is to gather more information and to continue to assess the suitability of the case for an FGC.

Preparatory phase

The FGC coordinator should contact potential participants individually, or meet them in person before the FGC meeting, as part of any FGC model with older adults or adults with disabilities. The preparatory phase helps the FGC coordinator to:

To ensure that pre-FGC meetings are conducted thoroughly and sensitively, FGC coordinators must have received training on the legal, ethical, social and practice issues raised by FGC with vulnerable adults (Daybreak 2011; Family Rights Group 2011).

See the training and accreditation section in the Information for commissioners resource.

Arranging the FGC

The FGC coordinator will arrange a time and place for the meeting that everyone is happy with. The FGC should take place in a neutral and private setting, free from interruptions and disturbance, and be fully accessible for any participants with disabilities. Normally an FGC will take place on one occasion and typically lasts for several hours. During the preparatory phase, the FGC coordinator will consider how the FGC meeting will be structured, to respond to the needs of the participants. For example, a vulnerable person may have difficulty participating for the whole session.